Planting more trees in urban areas is one of the best ways for cities to improve the wellbeing of their residents while also helping them tackle a growing number of challenges resulting from climate change.
In an effort to encourage cities worldwide to green up their concrete-laden cityscapes, an annual recognition program, called Tree Cities of the World, celebrates those urban areas that are actively working to educate residents and motivate local governments to protect, care for, and expand their urban forests.
The purpose of the program is well-established in a large body of research indicating how nature is key to resilient and thriving cities. On top of benefiting the wellbeing of urban residents, trees also yield three to five times their cost in overall benefits to a city, in the form of stormwater management, decreased levels of air pollution, and reduced energy costs.
According to the program’s manager, Alana Tucker, Tree Cities of the World has recognized its first group of cities in 2019. “There are now 120 cities from 23 countries recognized globally as Tree Cities of the World. Cities must reapply for annual recognition [and meet] 5 core standards of urban forest management for recognition,” says Tucker.
The five core standards are Establishing Responsibility (with a written statement that delegates care to a designated tree board); Setting the Rules (with an official policy that sets out requirements and best practices for tree care and worker safety); Knowing What You Have (using an updated city-wide inventory of all trees); Allocating Resources (via dedicated annual budget); and Celebrating Achievements (with an annual “tree party” that raises awareness among residents of their importance).